In its monthly budget report, the Treasury Department said Monday that the debt for the first half of the budget year—from October through March—was up from a shortfall of $743.5 billion for the same period a year ago.
The deficit has been pushed higher by trillions of dollars in support Congress has enacted in successive economic rescue packages since the pandemic hit in early March 2020. The latest round came in a $1.9 trillion bill that President Joe Biden launched through Congress last month.
Biden’s package combined personal support payments of up to $1,400 and the administration hurried to make those payments as soon as Biden signed the bill into law. The Treasury statement showed that the payments in March totaled $339 billion.
The budget report recorded that the deficit for just March totaled $659.6 billion, the third-highest monthly deficit. For the six month period, the $1.7 trillion deficit total exceeded the past record of an $829 billion deficit run-up for the six month’s ending in March 2011, a period when the government was spending to deal with the opposing effects of the recession caused by the 2008 financial crisis.
Last year’s deficit, for the budget year that ended Sept. 30 calculated a record $3.1 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office concluded in February that this year’s deficit would total $2.3 trillion. But that assessment did not include the cost of Biden’s $1.9 trillion rescue plan that Congress passed in March or the impact of Biden’s “Build Back Better” infrastructure proposal that Congress is thinking of now.
President Biden promised to bridge the partisan political divide but, fighting to collect Republican support for major bills, his administration appears to be changing the narrative by redefining what "bipartisan" means.
First, Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package enacted without a single GOP vote, and now his huge infrastructure package is facing strong Republican rejection in Washington. Biden maintains he does enjoy support from both parties, however, pointing to Republican voters and officials outside the Beltway.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was the first to draw attention when she tweeted, "Paid leave is infrastructure. Child care is infrastructure. Caregiving is infrastructure."
This led to a series of denunciations and mockery from lawmakers and scholars from both sides of the political spectrum.
"Abortion is infrastructure. Gun control is infrastructure. Forced unionization is infrastructure. Whatever the Left wants is infrastructure. You know what’s not? Roads & bridges.," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted, stating that only 5% of the infrastructure bill dealt with roads and bridges.